France vow to deliver 'big game' against All Blacks

1st October 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 October 2007, MARSEILLE (AFP) - France vowed to deliver a "big game" after being drawn against tournament favourites New Zealand in the rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff next weekend.

1 October 2007

MARSEILLE (AFP) - France vowed to deliver a "big game" after being drawn against tournament favourites New Zealand in the rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff next weekend.

The French finished second in Pool D behind Argentina, who beat Ireland to secure first place in the group and a favoured quarter-final against Scotland in Paris next weekend.

"The All Blacks are not insurmountable. What will happen, will happen," France coach Bernard Laporte said. "They are favourites and it's necessary that we fight.

"Quarter-finals are 50/50, so we have to use all the qualities and strengths we've got and consider it a one-off match. Never think there's a favourite team and take your chances as they come."

France suffered a shock 17-12 loss to Argentina in the opening game of the World Cup, but Laporte was full of praise for what he called the strongest team in the pool.

"First off, you have to congratulate the Argentinians on their match. They beat France in the first game and went through by beating Ireland in their last.

"Now we're in the quarter-finals against New Zealand. But if you want to be world champions then you have to beat everyone. That's what I said to the players."

He added that the team would naturally have preferred playing on home soil, but the pre-World Cup horse trading for votes to bidding countries will see France travel to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to play the All Blacks.

"It's true we would have preferred to have finished first and played in Paris, but that's that, the Argentinians were stronger than us in the pool.

"We will prepare well for New Zealand. Starting tonight we'll talk about it with the players," he said, adding that he thought the All Blacks would not be happy with playing his side, which pulled off a shock 43-31 victory over New Zealand in the 1999 World Cup semi-final.

"It's obvious they're a great team but there's always a way."
 
Flanker Serge Betsen, who captained France to their bonus-point 64-7 win over Georgia on Sunday that guaranteed the team's quarter-final berth, said he was confident of being able to step up to the mark set by New Zealand.

"We have no choice," he said. "We need to deliver a big game against the All Blacks.

"I think since our last match against them we have improved and today we have the capacity to match them," he said in reference to the All Blacks' dominance in a two-Test series win over France last November (47-6 and 23-11).

Squad captain Raphael Ibanez said the France team had "reasons to believe".

"We've qualified for the quarter-finals, so that was our first objective before the start of the competition. We're still as determined and we still have the will to win," the Wasps hooker said.

AFP

Subject: French news

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